Top stories from the Development and Aid World News Service– DAWNS Digest.
Ethiopian Court Sentences Swedish Journalists to 11 Years in Prison
The authoritarian tendencies of the Ethiopian government runs deep. This turn of events is likely to earn the government much criticism from (donors!) in Europe and the United States. “A court in Ethiopia has sentenced two Swedish journalists to 11 years in prison on charges of supporting terrorism after the two illegally entered the country with an ethnic Somali rebel group in a case that has been criticized by media rights groups…A ruled Tuesday that the two freelance journalists — Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye — will serve “rigorous imprisonment” following their convictions last week. Ethiopian troops had captured Persson and Schibbye six months ago during a clash with rebels in eastern Ethiopia’s restive Somali region, a no-go area for reporters. Ethiopia considers the rebel group a terrorist organization, and it is very difficult for journalists to gain access to the region. Rights groups say that is so abuses there are not exposed.” (Yahoo http://yhoo.it/tHCPt8)
When Arab League Observers Watch, Syrian Authorities Only Use Tear Gas
70,000 people–yes you read that right–took to the streets of Homs as a long awaited team of observers from the Arab league visited the embattled city. Scores have been killed in Homs the past few days. At least this time Syrian authorities did not open fire. “The observers are also due to travel to the protest hubs of Hama, near Homs, and Idlib in the northwest, close to the border with Turkey, the television added, without saying when. Ahead of the observers’ arrival, the army pulled back heavy armour from Baba Amro, scene of much of the violence, the Observatory said. The Observatory added, however, that tanks and troop carriers had ‘repositioned inside the government centres in Baba Amro, Al-Inshaatt and Brazil Street in Homs.’ It cited an activist as saying on its Facebook page that “it only takes over five minutes” for the vehicles to return.” (The Australian http://bit.ly/tPsrS1)
Ready for a Funeral
Kim Jong Il is formally laid to rest. “Tens of thousands of North Koreans lined the snowy streets of Pyongyang on Wednesday, wailing and clutching their chests as a black hearse carried late leader Kim Jong Il’s body through the capital for a final farewell.The procession also put his young son and successor, Kim Jong Un, on center stage. He was head mourner on a gray and freezing day, walking with one hand on the hearse, the other raised in salute, his head somberly bowed against the wind…Even as North Koreans mourned the loss of the second leader the nation has known, the transition of power to Kim Jong Un was well under way. The young man, who is in late 20s, is already being hailed by state media as the “supreme leader” of the party, state and army.” (WaPo http://wapo.st/sytSUU)
Money Quote From a Donor: U.S. deputy ambassador Joseph Torsella on a new UN budget agreement that reduces the UN’s two year budget from $5.41 billion to $5.15 billion: “Historic” (Daily Herald http://bit.ly/vxyP6b)